THE WORD PIRATES. Written by Susan Cooper and illustrated by Steven Kellogg. Holiday House. $18.99.
Susan Cooper is a Newbery Medalist and author of The Dark is Rising series. She is also a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement from the Young Adult Services Library Association. In this funny pirate spoof, Cooper tells the story of a group of pirates who think words are for eating. When they go off on their pirate business, it is to steal words, which they eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with no regard to the holes they are leaving in stories. Eventually, they seek out a Word Wizard from New Zealand whose stories are said to be extra delicious. But she turns the tables on them by using her mighty word pen to fill their heads with the magic of story. Then she takes them to a deserted island. There, they eat a diet of vegetables and slowly learn how to read.
Steven Kellogg uses his signature cartoon style to illustrate the comic characters of this story. Children will enjoy pouring over the illustrations to find amusing the details he incorporates. As examples, a young pirate starts his first story using a pen that looks like the Word Wizard’s and the pirates’ Bumblebirds, who used to steal words, end up helping the Word Wizard. The facial expressions of the characters are wonderful. What a successful collaboration between two beloved creators of children’s books!